Enhancing productivity and estimation of carbon in CDM forestry projects: a Malawi case study
Makungwa, Stephy David
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This thesis offers a method that informs on the most appropriate sites for successful tree establishment and provides protection to the planted trees in CDM forestry projects. It also offers a method that can accurately and precisely estimate woody biomass in CDM forestry projects established on an agricultural landscape. The thesis has established a set of evaluation criteria that are defined and generally agreed upon by a panel of local forestry experts in Malawi. These criteria express the degree of appropriateness of particular locations to support successful tree establishment and growth, and protect the planted trees from deforestation and forest degradation. They also influence farmers’ decision-making to allocate land for either tree planting or other competing land use options, e.g. crop cultivation. The thesis uses these evaluation criteria to functionally identify priority sites on the landscape of Central Malawi for the establishment of CDM forestry projects. The priority sites are identified using trade-off analysis tools of the GIS-based MCA protocols. Besides site identification, the thesis has established a magnitude of discrepancy that can result from the use of imported allometric models in estimating woody biomass in CDM forestry projects. Imported allometric models consistently under-estimate the woody biomass of the growing trees in the study area with a mean prediction error of as high as 50%. Local allometric models are therefore developed and they are found to be both accurate and precise in estimating woody biomass. These results imply that identification of priority sites, and accurate and precise estimation of woody biomass in CDM forestry project activities are likely and can be attained. In turn, successful establishment of CDM project activities lead to enhanced productivity that will attract expanded investments in CDM forestry projects. The thesis uses Malawi as a case study. The findings of this thesis can be scaled out to other countries whose socio-ecological characteristics are similar to Malawi. These are mostly tropical countries of the Sub-Saharan Africa. In so doing, the thesis contributes to improving productivity and estimation of carbon in CDM forestry project.